A FLOOD protection scheme comprising walls and embankments for Langholm went on display to the public for the first time last week.
Langholm has been identified as a Potentially Vulnerable Zone and the scheme is designed to protect homes and businesses from a 1 in 200-year flood event.
Representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s flood team and consultants RPS spent three days at the Buccleuch Centre so the public could give their feedback.
One issue to overcome is the confluence of the Wauchope Water with the Esk.
The Wauchope enters the Esk at an awkward angle and during a spate doesn’t have enough velocity so the water backs up.
It means it drops any sediment it’s carrying so there is a build-up of debris under the church bridge.
One option RPS looked at was diverting the Wauchope through Buccleuch Park so it entered the Esk lower down.
However, the Buccleuch Park project would be affected and this had been fed back to the consultants.
The direct defences, comprising walls and embankments, would run along Mary Street and into Frances Street, Elizabeth Street and Caroline Street.
On the other bank they would run from Townhead and along George Street and continue all the way down past the waste water treatment plant.
It was made clear that dredging was not a long-term solution to defending the town against flooding. It was not effective and would be very costly because of the frequency of having to do it.
Michael Smith, of the council flood team, said: “We looked at dredging both small and large sections but widening the river would not make any difference.
“If you dredge, the sediment gathers in the same places during each flood event.
“Dredging is costly because you have to go in every few years. It costs way more than flood defences which can last for decades.”
Frances Carragher, senior associate at RPS, leads the project.
She was asked whether the study took into account the proposal by Community Windpower to build a windfarm comprising 45 turbines at Faw Side in the Ewes Valley.
People have voiced concern about the amount of extra water which would flow into the Esk as a result of the run-off from the windfarm.
Ms Carragher said: “It’s not that we’ve discounted it but it doesn’t have permission. We can only consider what is in place at the moment.”
On the defences themselves, she said: “We’ll put in embankments where we can because they’re softer. The height will vary throughout the town, maybe 1.8m, possibly higher.
“There is a wall in George Street but we don’t know how it’s designed or built so it will need a new wall.”
The current proposal for the path behind the mills is to build a wall but the path will remain open.
Ms Carragher said they looked at water storage upstream but the volume of water was too great for that to succeed and there was really nowhere for it to go. This option would have been very expensive and it was always a last resort.
There will now be further work done on the scheme as a result of the feedback and another consultation will be held.
The Scottish government is funding the scheme; the money is committed but it is likely that construction will not be completed until 2023.
Mairi Telford Jammeh, who lives on the waterside, said the householders owned the ground in front of their own properties out to the middle of the Esk.
She said: “RPS didn’t know this. People could object to the hard defences being built. We would have to give our permission. They should have consulted the house owners to find out more information.”
Roy Harling, who lives in George Street, said that, basically, RPS had done what they were asked to do which was to look into all the options for reducing and removing the flood risk.
He said: “They checked all the standard things and, for me, the only major one, which will significantly reduce the risk, is to build barriers.
“I don’t object to higher barriers because that will reduce the risk to the town.”
However, he is very concerned at the prospect of all the extra water which would pour into the Ewes and Esk if the Faw Side windfarm was built.
He said: “They will build at least 30km of road. There will be huge holes in the ground for the bases and soil and peat will be removed.
“The roads will be substantial so they can bear the weight of the heavy equipment being transported by lorries.”